published Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Chattanooga native edits Marvel’s Avenger comic books

Bill Rosemann, a 1989 Notre Dame High School graduate, lives in Darien, Conn., where he is an editor with Marvel Comics. Among his primary duties is working with the Avenger characters, including a new series called Avengers Academy.
Photo from Marvel Comics
Bill Rosemann, a 1989 Notre Dame High School graduate, lives in Darien, Conn., where he is an editor with Marvel Comics. Among his primary duties is working with the Avenger characters, including a new series called Avengers Academy. Photo from Marvel Comics

BILL ROSEMANN

Age: 42.

Hometown: Cherry Hill, N.J.

Education: Notre Dame High School, University of Notre Dame.

Vocation: Marvel Comics, editor.

On Friday nights before a football game at Notre Dame High School, Bill Rosemann would sneak away from the campus to visit the comic-book shop on Brainerd Road.

"Friday was new-comics day," he said. "I would sneak off during that time between school and getting dressed out and then sit in my locker reading a comic book before the game. I was always known as 'The Comic Book Guy.'"

Thirty years later, the phrase still fits him. Today, Rosemann is an editor with Marvel Comics, the only vocation he has ever imagined himself doing.

As a toddler, Rosemann said, he remembers seeing a cardboard cutout of Superman while at a mall with his mother. In first grade, he bought a collection of six issues of "The Amazing Spider-Man" at a book fair.

"That was my gateway," he said.

From that moment forward, Rosemann said, all of his allowance and money earned from summer jobs in high school and college went toward comics books. He doesn't know how many he currently owns, only that there are boxes and boxes of them and "I have every one I ever bought as a kid."

Rosemann said he is not surprised that the film adaptation of "The Avengers" set box-office records as the top-grossing film of all time for an opening weekend.

"Here at the offices, we've always had faith and a belief in the characters. Most everyone here are like me and grew up a fan, and once someone had the opportunity to present them in the right way, it was a matter of time."

He said the movie works because of advances in special effects and editing and also because the writers grew up with the characters and treated them with respect.

"They kept the humor and kept them closer to the comic-book characters," he said. "These characters have been around since the 1960s, and there is a reason they've endured."

Part of Rosemann's job at Marvel is overseeing new character development, but his primary focus is on the Avenger characters, which have always been his favorites, he said.

"I was really an Avengers kid growing up, but I specifically admired Spider-Man, Daredevil and Captain America and the characters who were more human. I liked the characters who didn't have amazing superpowers ... and had to struggle more to win. I found their triumphs more impressive and more interesting.

"They've always been a metaphor for being an underdog, especially Spider-Man. When I was growing up, I always looked up to him and thought, 'What would Peter Parker do?'"

While he always knew he would somehow work in the comic-book industry, Rosemann said he had no idea how to pursue it as a career. He drew as a kid but not well enough to make a living at it. He always did well in English, for which he credits his hobby, and studied English literature at the University of Notre Dame.

In 1992, when DC Comics decided to kill off Superman, Rosemann wrote an article for the UND daily paper and convinced a friend to forward it to someone he knew at Marvel.

Instead of going to Mexico for spring break with his buddies, he traveled to Connecticut and the Marvel offices and met with his buddy's friend, who passed his resume around.

That contact led to a freelance job with Marvel Age, a comic-book trade magazine. His first assignment was covering a photo shoot on the roof of a building with the rapper KRS-One and someone in a Spider-Man costume, he said.

"I thought, 'I've made it. This is it.' "

From there he was hired on full time in the catalog-sales department and eventually moved into marketing. With the advent of the Internet, Rosemann started writing a blog called "Your Man @ Marvel." The experience fueled his desire to work in editorial. Still, when he realized Marvel didn't have any openings, he left and worked at other companies, including DC Comics.

He got the call from Joe Quesada, current chief creative officer at Marvel, about six years ago and has been working his dream job ever since.

One of his new projects is The Avenger Academy.

"It's sort of Harry Potter for young superheroes," Rosemann said. "We follow them to see if they will become heroes or villains. It's a metaphor for coming of age and choosing to do good or evil."

Rosemann said technology is changing how people get their comics, with tablet and smartphone apps resembling the familiar spinner racks that can be found in drugstores and specialty shops.

Rosemann said he is also a movie fan but has no interest in moving over to Marvel Studios.

"There is something about the images," he said. "I'm doing what I've always wanted to do. When I was a kid, I always wanted to make comic books. I just had to figure out how to do it."

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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